Rss Feed
Tweeter button
Facebook button

They’re alive! Cuba’s Frankenstein classic cars

The best way to view these cobbled-together classics are as curated pieces of art from a long-gone era, Hagerty said. Their value lies not in their authenticity, but as artifacts that could have only arisen out of Cuba’s tortured history with the world’s largest economy.

“It’s like the Galapagos Island from a car evolution standpoint,” he said.

Hagerty believes the best of the cars could make it onto the auction circuit and attract bids in the low six-figures. That price level would represent a premium of two or three times the average value of the car.

Read More U.S. Companies Clamor to Do Business in New Cuban Market

One of the models collectors can expect to find in abundance is the 1956 Cadillac Series 62, which has an average value of $51,465, according to Hagerty Insurance. There are also plenty of Pontiac Chieftans, valued on average at $32,900, and Chevrolet 210 sedans, which average $15,700, Hagerty said.

But some collectors will be looking for what he calls the holy grail: one of the high-performance Maseratis, Jaguars, or Ferraris. Those sports models once raced through Havana’s streets during the brief period when former President Fulgenica Batista brought a Grand Prix to Cuba.

The footnote in history is best remembered for the kidnapping of Formula One World Champion Juan Manuel Fangio by rebels aligned with Fidel Castro at the second grand prix in 1958. A speedster from this period could fetch many millions of dollars, Hagerty said.

It is not impossible that a Mazerati 300s or Jaguar D-Type is sitting under a tarp somewhere. Back in the 1950s, racing teams would often sell their cars at the end of international races because it was too expensive to haul them home, the CEO said. At the time, Cuba was also a rich country with many willing buyers.

But unearthing one of these treasures is not likely either. Most of them left the country long ago, and there were only about 20 or 30 teams that raced in each of the three years of the Cuban Grand Prix, said Hagerty. He once encountered a Cuban Grand Prix car in Argentina that belonged to a Cuban citizen who snuck it out of the country during the revolution.

Read MoreThe $3 million Ferrari that you can’t take on the road

As for the fate of Cuba’s car clubs and the culture of do-it-yourself repair, Hagerty believes it will persist even if the United States lifts the embargo.

These guys have been doing it so long, I imagine a lot of them will stick with what they have,” he said.

I think they’d all like to have their lifestyle and income improved, but you can tell there’s a nostalgia for how they’ve been able to survive, as well,” he added.

Article source: http://www.cnbc.com/id/102283724

Are driverless cars safe? California’s regulators weigh issues

Driverless-car-file.jpg

May 13 2014: In this file photo, a Google self-driving car goes on a test drive near the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif. California’s Department of Motor Vehicles will miss a year-end deadline to adopt new rules for cars of the future because regulators first have to figure out how they’ll know whether “driverless” vehicles are safe. (AP)

California’s Department of Motor Vehicles will miss a year-end deadline to adopt new rules for cars of the future because regulators first have to figure out how they’ll know whether “driverless” vehicles are safe.

It’s a rare case of the law getting ahead of an emerging technology and reflects regulators’ struggle to balance consumer protection with innovation.

Safety is a chief selling point, since self-driving cars — thanks to an array of sensors — promise to have much greater road awareness and quicker reaction time than people. Plus, they won’t text, drink or doze off.

Though the cars are at least a few years away from showrooms, seven companies are testing prototypes on California’s roads, and regulators have questions: Do they obey all traffic laws? What if their computers freeze? Can they smoothly hand control back to human drivers?

DMV officials say they won’t let the public get self-driving cars until someone can certify that they don’t pose an undue risk. The problem is that the technology remains so new there are no accepted standards to verify its safety. Absent standards, certifying safety would be like grading a test without an answer key.

Broadly, the department has three options: It could follow the current U.S. system, in which manufacturers self-certify their vehicles; it could opt for a European system, in which independent companies verify safety; or the state could (implausibly) get into the testing business.

“It’s a huge undertaking,” said Bernard Soriano, who oversees the DMV’s regulatory process. “There are all of these issues that need to be adequately answered.”

Manufacturers generally would prefer self-certification. That may be where California ends up, but for now the DMV is exploring independent certification — something that doesn’t exist for driverless cars.

In July, the DMV asked third-party testers whether they’d be interested in getting into the game. The department doesn’t have the expertise to create a safety standard and testing framework, so “the department wanted to get a very good sense of what is out there in the market,” according to Russia Chavis, a deputy secretary at the California State Transportation Agency, which oversees the DMV and requested a deeper exploration of third-party alternatives to self-certification.

Two large European testers and two businesses in Ohio responded to the DMV’s request. None was ready to implement a program immediately.

So the department is asking industry, consumer groups and other interested parties to gather in January for a public workshop on safety standards.

Whatever course California officials take could influence how other states — and perhaps even the federal government — approach the issue. California is such a large consumer market that in many cases its rules become de facto national standards.

Federal transportation officials have said they don’t plan to write driverless car safety standards any time soon, and they don’t want states writing their own. SAE International, an association of engineers, has been developing a set of safety guidelines — but those are for vehicle testing and don’t get into specific performance levels that would be needed for commercially available cars.

California’s Jan. 1 deadline was set by a 2012 state law that regulated testing on public roads and required the DMV to publish rules guiding what carmakers need to do before they can bring the vehicles to market. The law also says the DMV should encourage the development of driverless cars.

Regulations often lag cutting-edge technology, but California’s driverless car policy has developed sooner because of lobbying from one of the state’s signature companies: Google.

Self-driving vehicles are a departure from the Silicon Valley giant’s Internet search and advertising core, but a priority for co-founder Sergey Brin.

Even before Google pushed the 2012 law that officially legalized driverless technology, the Silicon Valley giant had dispatched its cars hundreds of thousands of miles. Google says its Toyota Priuses and Lexus SUVs, souped up with radar, cameras and laser sensors, have an excellent safety record. They have been involved in just a “few” accidents, though not at fault in any of them, spokeswoman Courtney Hohne said.

Google has its own idea for how to determine whether vehicles are safe.

At a March hearing on DMV regulations, Ron Medford, the company’s driverless car safety director and a former federal transportation official, suggested the department do road testing.

“I would be cautious,” he said, “not to make some of these things more complicated than they are.”

Article source: http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2014/12/21/are-driverless-cars-safe-california-regulators-weigh-issues/

Car Collectors Around The World Have Been Waiting Decades Fo…

Old American cars are seen on a street in Havana, Cuba, on December 19, 2014© AFP/File Yamil LageOld American cars are seen on a street in Havana, Cuba, on December 19, 2014

Havana (AFP) – Cuba’s iconic stock of refurbished vintage American sedans from the 1950s may be facing their last trips to the garage soon, following the historic thawing of ties between Havana and Washington.

Flashy Pontiacs, Plymouths, Dodges and Chevrolets, as well as crudely patched and rickety classics make up the Communist island’s 70,000 “almendrones,” cars affectionately called large almonds for their rounded shape.

Fancier classic models are rented for special occasions while their more rundown counterparts are driven as taxis and by families.

But they all have one thing in common: they survived the Cuban Revolution, the Cold War, and the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The almendrones owe their lasting nature to the master skills of local mechanics, as well as to the American embargo and Cuban authorities who put the brakes on replenishing the the island’s stock of cars.

Purchasing and selling the vehicles, which has only been allowed for the past three years, is only permitted for Cubans.

- ‘Puts food on table’ -

The easing of the five-decade US trade embargo, one part of the rapprochement announced Wednesday, is likely to awaken the attention and desire of car connoisseurs worldwide, who are eager to snatch up the classic models.

“You would have to pay me good money to sell my car,” Aramis Carmona, 40, told AFP, watching tourists from his white and red 1953 Chevy with hubcaps and a chrome bumper.

“It puts food on the table,” the amateur mechanic said. “When I have a little money, I buy motor oil instead of cooking oil, because I know that that will help me feed my family.”

He said he had given new life to the “wreck” he bought ten years ago for $7,000.

During the Revolution, Fidel rode around in an Oldsmobile with guns hidden in the seat. Ernesto “Che” Guevara went for rides, cigar in mouth, at the wheel of a Studebaker.

This was before Cuba decided to swap its Western cars for more “revolutionary” vehicles, like the famous Russian GAZ-69 jeep adopted by “El Comandante” Castro.

- Never blotted out -

In the 1960s and 1970s, Peugeot 404s made in Argentina, then Czech Skodas and Soviet Ladas tried to take over the road but with limited success, as the vintage American models kept passing from hand to hand.

Peugeots and Chinese models appeared on Cuban roads in the 1990s and 2000s, but they, too, never overpowered the omnipresent American classics.

However, few original parts remain under the cars’ hoods after numerous patchups from crack mechanics who have brought them back from the dead multiple times.

Carmona said that he replaced his Chevy’s original motor four years ago with a BMW diesel model that consumed far less fuel. The original went only 6 kilometers per liter (14 miles per gallon).

British architect Norman Foster, struck by the cars’ looks and upkeep during a recent trip to Cuba, paid tribute in the book “Havana: Autos and Architecture,” where he describes a tight relationship between the island’s history and its vehicles.

He tells of Ruben Hernandez, who in 1951 bought a Buick Super Dynaflow. In 1959, his family’s belongings were confiscated in the Cuban Revolution, but Hernandez managed to save the car. 

The collector’s item now belongs to his youngest son William Hernandez, who inherited it in 1989.

Since then, he’s taken it every day to display alongside other flashy cars at Havana’s tourist hot spots. For $25 per hour, he offers passersby a ride back in time, in a vehicle whose days may now be limited.

 

Article source: http://www.businessinsider.com/afp-us-cuba-thaw-could-spell-end-for-islands-iconic-cars-2014-12

California Puzzles Over Safety of Driverless Cars

Associated Press

California’s Department of Motor Vehicles will miss a year-end deadline to adopt new rules for cars of the future because regulators first have to figure out how they’ll know whether “driverless” vehicles are safe.

It’s a rare case of the law getting ahead of an emerging technology and reflects regulators’ struggle to balance consumer protection with innovation.

Safety is a chief selling point, since self-driving cars ? thanks to an array of sensors ? promise to have much greater road awareness and quicker reaction time than people. Plus, they won’t text, drink or doze off.

Though the cars are at least a few years away from showrooms, seven companies are testing prototypes on California’s roads, and regulators have questions: Do they obey all traffic laws? What if their computers freeze? Can they smoothly hand control back to human drivers?

DMV officials say they won’t let the public get self-driving cars until someone can certify that they don’t pose an undue risk. The problem is that the technology remains so new there are no accepted standards to verify its safety. Absent standards, certifying safety would be like grading a test without an answer key.

Broadly, the department has three options: It could follow the current U.S. system, in which manufacturers self-certify their vehicles; it could opt for a European system, in which independent companies verify safety; or the state could (implausibly) get into the testing business.

“It’s a huge undertaking,” said Bernard Soriano, who oversees the DMV’s regulatory process. “There are all of these issues that need to be adequately answered.”

Manufacturers generally would prefer self-certification. That may be where California ends up, but for now the DMV is exploring independent certification ? something that doesn’t exist for driverless cars.

In July, the DMV asked third-party testers whether they’d be interested in getting into the game. The department doesn’t have the expertise to create a safety standard and testing framework, so “the department wanted to get a very good sense of what is out there in the market,” according to Russia Chavis, a deputy secretary at the California State Transportation Agency, which oversees the DMV and requested a deeper exploration of third-party alternatives to self-certification.

Two large European testers and two businesses in Ohio responded to the DMV’s request. None was ready to implement a program immediately.

So the department is asking industry, consumer groups and other interested parties to gather in January for a public workshop on safety standards.

Whatever course California officials take could influence how other states ? and perhaps even the federal government ? approach the issue. California is such a large consumer market that in many cases its rules become de facto national standards.

Federal transportation officials have said they don’t plan to write driverless car safety standards any time soon, and they don’t want states writing their own. SAE International, an association of engineers, has been developing a set of safety guidelines ? but those are for vehicle testing and don’t get into specific performance levels that would be needed for commercially available cars.

Article source: http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/california-puzzles-safety-driverless-cars-27746925

The year’s 10 ugliest new cars

1. Chevy Spark EV

Finally, the ugliest new car of 2014 — drum roll please: the 2014 Chevy Spark EV, or Sparky V, as we’ve been calling it around here. This one confuses us a little bit, considering it looks almost exactly like the gasoline model, which is a strong seller. Like the Accord Plug-in, the Sparky V gets a closed-up grille, which we suspect turns people off. The regular Spark remains worthy of consideration. It’s tuned for sporty driving and gets 39 mpg on the highway with the manual transmission. You’ll also save about 10 grand, which at today’s prices will get you about 3,333 gallons of gas. Though CarInsurance.com’s pool of voters (incredibly qualified, we’re sure) have identified these cars as aesthetic disappointments, very few are actually bad as cars. In fact, in today’s market, as least in the U.S., there are no truly terrible cars, at least in terms of actual utility, when compared with the bombs that have come and gone over the past decades. Besides, ugliness is always subjective. You know the adage: One man’s Aztec is another man’s Aston.

The story “Are these the 10 ugliest new cars of 2014?” originally appeared on Autoweek.com.

Article source: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-years-10-ugliest-new-cars-2014-12-20

Google Doesn’t Want To Go It Alone With Driverless Cars

Google doesn’t want to be the next Ford.

The Internet behemoth, bent on building the first fully-automated cars, said Friday that it plans to partner with traditional automakers when development of its self-driving technology is complete.

“We don’t particularly want to become a car maker,” Chris Urmson, the director of Google’s self-driving car project, told The Wall Street Journal. “We are talking [with] and looking for partners.”

Auto executives in Detroit and abroad confirmed they had been approached by Google, the Journal reported.

Google did not respond to a request for comment on Saturday.

Recent advances in driverless technology have ignited competition in Silicon Valley. Google announced in April that its automated cars could successfully detect and avoid pedestrians and bicyclists. In October, Tesla Motors equipped the new D line of its Model S sedan with a limited autopilot feature. Mercedes-Benz’s latest S-Class features a “traffic jam assist” that allows the car to automatically follow the vehicle in front of it at at low speeds.

Still, fully automated vehicles have a long drive ahead of them before they hit the market.

Regulatory and insurance policies will have to come first. Moreover, the technology faces serious ethical questions — namely, if an accident becomes unavoidable, who should die?

Consider this scenario, spelled out by Jason Millar in the September issue of Wired:

You are travelling along a single-lane mountain road in an autonomous car that is fast approaching a narrow tunnel. Just before entering the tunnel a child errantly runs into the road and trips in the centre of the lane, effectively blocking the entrance to the tunnel. The car is unable to brake in time to avoid a crash. It has but two options: hit and kill the child, or swerve into the wall on either side of the tunnel, thus killing you. Now ask yourself, Who should decide whether the car goes straight or swerves? Manufacturers? Users? Legislators?

Google is as yet unprepared to answer that question.

“People are philosophizing about it,” Ron Medford, the director of safety on Google’s self-driving car project, told The Associated Press last month, “but the question about real-world capability and real-world events that can affect us, we really haven’t studied that issue.”

Article source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/20/google-driverless-car_n_6359904.html

Deputies find 1 stolen race car, still searching for second race car

Two expensive race cars and a truck were allegedly stolen from an Orlando gas station, but one of the race cars was recovered Thursday night, according to Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

The stolen vehicles were described as a 2000 Black Ford F350 with a visor on the front windshield, two chrome exhaust pipes, cowl induction hood and a cracked right rear quarter panel and a 1978 Chevrolet Malibu with a custom painted orange “Romeo” on the driver door and a 1983 Ford Mustang with a custom painted orange “Juliet” on the driver door.

“Juliet” was recovered Thursday, but it is unclear where investigators found the vehicle.

Investigators said two race cars, worth $150,000 each, were stolen along with a trailer hauler and a truck from the Kangaroo gas station on East Colonial Drive.

Investigators said the owner parked the vehicles there around 11 p.m. on Dec. 13, but when he checked back the next day, they were missing. It is unclear why the owner parked the vehicles at a gas station.

Also see: Utah woman finds abandoned baby in garbage can

If you know anything about the other race car, you are asked to call deputies.

Related: Florida mug shots




1 of 50

VECCIA, PETER – LARC-GRAND THEFT 10K LESS THAN 20K DOLS




























































































Gallery Endcap

Article source: http://www.wesh.com/news/deputies-2-race-cars-worth-150000-each-stolen-from-orlando-gas-station/30280416

That Cheap Old Car Might Carry Deadly Cost for Teens: Study

When shopping for a safe car for their teens, parents might want to aim for the newest model they can afford, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that that almost half of the teenage drivers killed on the roads in the past few years were driving vehicles that were 11 or more years old and lacking key safety features found in newer models, according to the study, published online in the journal Injury Prevention.

“We know that many parents cannot afford a new vehicle,” said the study’s lead author, Anne McCartt, senior vice president for research at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. “Our message to parents is to get the most safety they can afford.”

McCartt and her coauthor analyzed data from 2008 to 2012 from the U.S. Fatality Analysis Reporting System, which included information on 2,420 drivers ages 15 to 17 and 18,975 drivers ages 35 to 50.

Among the teens who died, 64 percent were in a car, 29 percent in a mini or small car, and 35 percent in a mid-size or larger car. Most of the teen drivers who were fatally injured — 82 percent — were in vehicles that were at least 6 years old, while 31 percent were in vehicles 11 to 15 years old. For comparison, fatally injured teens were almost twice as likely as their middle-aged counterparts to be driving a car that was 11 to 15 years old.

The most startling statistic: Nearly half of the teens who died — 48 percent — were in a vehicle that was at least 11 years old.

What the researchers don’t know is what percentage of teens drive older vehicles. So they can’t say that the data prove that older vehicles are increasing the risk of death in teenagers.

Still, there’s good reason to suspect that teens would be safer in newer cars, says Tony Fabio, an assistant professor of epidemiology in the graduate school of public health and director of the Center for Injury Research Community Action at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Fabio is unaffiliated with the new study.

“We know that teens are less likely than adults to be wearing seat belts and that may be partially because they are driving older cars in which the belts may not work as well,” Fabio said. “And you have to think about that in the context of an older car that might not have an air bag.”

And while the study doesn’t prove that older cars are less safe, it does suggest they are, Fabio says, adding “almost any major public health victory started out with a study that just suggested something wasn’t safe.”

Ultimately, McCartt said, though newer model cars tend to have more safety features, protecting your teens is not as straight forward as just steering clear of older vehicles. “We did find older vehicles that met our safety criteria,” she said.

Still, it’s a rare older vehicle that has electronic stability control — an important safety feature that helps drivers keep control in extreme maneuvers, McCartt said. “That’s something that is standard on new cars since it was a requirement starting in 2012,” she added.

To help parents figure out which vehicle might be best for their teens, the IIHS came up with a list of safe cars which it posted on its website:

http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/vehicles-for-teens

Article source: http://www.nbcnews.com/health/kids-health/cheap-old-car-might-carry-deadly-cost-teens-study-n271321

Google Seeks Partners for Self-Driving Car

Google Inc. is looking for auto industry partners to bring its vision of a self-driving car to market within the next five years, the head of the software giant’s autonomous-vehicle project said Friday.

“We don’t particularly want to become a car maker,” Chris Urmson, the project’s director, said in an interview. “We are talking [with] and looking for partners.”

Mr. Urmson said his team, in the meantime, is working with…

Article source: http://www.wsj.com/articles/google-seeks-partners-for-self-driving-car-1419026779

Toyota tops ‘Consumer Reports’ list of best car values

Here are what Consumer Reports says are the best carBest subcompact: Hyundai  AccentBest compact: Toyota PriusBest luxury compact: Buick RegalBest luxury midsize: Lexus  ES 300hBest large car: Chevrolet ImpalaBest sports car: Mazda Miata MX-5Best wagon: Subaru OutbackBest small SUV: Subaru ForesterBest midsize SUV: Toyota HighlanderBest large SUV: Chevrolet TraverseBest luxury compact SUV: BMW X3Best luxury midsize SUV: Lexus RXBest pickup truck: Nissan FrontierBest minivan: Mazda5 Grand Touring


While admitting its choice is a bit dull, Consumer Reports announced Thursday that it has nonetheless picked the Toyota Camry as the best overall value among new cars.

The popular model in its hybrid version placed top in the magazine’s 2014 Annual New Car Value Rankings. The Camry Hybrid is such a good deal, the magazine says, that a buyers’ dollars go twice as far with it compared to the average model. While it doesn’t come cheap — the model tested costs $29,000 — it has low operating costs at about 52 cents a mile.

“While the Camry Hybrid may not be the most exciting car to drive, it is smooth and capable with stone-cold reliability at an affordable price,” says Mark Rechtin, the magazine’s auto editor.

The values list is based on Consumer Report’s road tests, predicted reliability and five-year ownership costs, including depreciation, fuel, insurance premiums, interest on financing, maintenance and repairs and sales tax. Depreciation plays the biggest role and the lower a car’s costs, the better it performed when it comes to the value.

Here’s the list by category:

•Subcompact: Hyundai Accent Sport

•Compact: Toyota Prius Four

•Luxury Compact Cars: Buick Regal Premium I

•Luxury Midsized/Large Cars: Lexus ES 300h

•Large Cars: Chevrolet Impala 2LTZ (3.6)

•Sports Cars/Convertibles: Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring

•Midsized Cars: Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE

•Wagons (AWD): Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium

•Small SUVs: Subaru Forester 2.5i Premium

•Midsized SUVs: Toyota Highlander XLE (V-6)

•Large SUVs: Chevrolet Traverse LT

•Luxury Compact SUVs: BMW X3 xDrive28i (2.0T)

•Luxury Midsized/Large SUVs: Lexus RX 450h

•Pickup Trucks: Nissan Frontier SV (V6)

•Minivan: Mazda5

Article source: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2014/12/18/toyota-consumer-reports-best-value/20598347/